2014 A Look Back: September – December.

September.

September was a very busy month for me. I had just gone back to work after a six week school break for summer and was really feeling the long days compared to my usual chilled and lazy ones. I hadn’t imagined going back to work six months pregnant in the heat would be so difficult. After all, it was not so hard before. However, as I hit my third trimester, all matter of things pregnancy related started to change. I felt more tired, more achy. Feelings of sickness had returned. I truly felt pregnant.

I only blogged three times this month. One was a post I had written last year that I decided to re-blog. After the decision to leave wordpress in August, I began blogging key posts that had a big impact on me or others. “Revenge” was one of these posts where a former colleague of mine questioned my motives to why I was writing about the past. It upset me that she felt it was necessary to be so heartless and give her opinions on a matter she could never understand.

The most significant moment of my life happened on the 23rd of this month. My wonderful daughter Ivy-Wren was born. A lot of people have asked about her unusual name. I picked Ivy as I like the nature side of it. Also, Ivy is a strong plant that withstands all conditions. I found Wren whilst searching through endless name lists on-line. It actually came up as a boy’s name but I loved that it is a little bird. My mum calls me “Tuni” which is a little Indian bird. We felt that adding Wren to Ivy’s name would be a suitable tribute to my mother. No doubt Ivy-Wren dotes on her loving grandma.

October.

Ivy-Wren was born premature by 7 weeks. Her actual due date was November 9th so we were growing used to having her with us so early. I mourned the fact I was no longer pregnant. I had looked forward to seeing the whole pregnancy through. She had spent the beginning of this month in hospital under special care. She was a tiny little thing. So very small and fragile. My heart ached to leave her every day surrounded by beeping monitors, endless strangers, wailing babies and lonely in her isolated cot. On the 6th October we were able to take our little button home after two weeks in hospital and although it has been unbelievably overwhelming and we have felt massively under-prepared, nothing can take away the fact that our little girl brings us joy every single day.

In October, I blogged about the lead up to my labour as it wasn’t at all straightforward!

November.

I was appalled to discover that there was a man claiming to hold all knowledge on how to seduce women this month. Not only that, but this awful human being advocated violence and harassment in order to do it! Julien Blanc was thankfully denied entry into the UK. The real horror however is the number of men who signed up to see him on tour. It truly is worrying that some men would consider these derogatory and abusive tactics acceptable.

December.

Well here we are on the final day of December in England (I’m sure many of you have already celebrated New Years’!). My husband and I aren’t planning to stay up. We have to embrace sleep when we can get it! Ivy-Wren has come on leaps and bounds putting on a massive six pounds since she came home. She is a delight, making us proud of her every day.

I look forward to 2015 and the journey we as a family will take together.

I am not going to draw on the negatives of this month too much. Many issues have occurred within the family and relationships have been tested but I continue to be positive when I look at my beautiful daughter.

Happy New Year to all my WordPress friends. May 2015 bring you inner peace, support and a determination to survive. You are all in my thoughts.

See you next year!!

Ros xxxxx

Here’s a little photo of me and my jewel 🙂

cropped-roo.jpg

 

Dear Dad.

Dear Dad,

you are lucky I’m even using a name as you certainly don’t deserve one. The only form of letters I ever wrote to you were to apologize profusely for upsetting you. Letters that I was forced to write. This letter will be different. There will be no apologies.

I have almost said everything I could ever want to say to you. The longer your presence remains gone, the easier it’s becoming to forget you. Your spirit is not kept burning by me. I want to forget you and all the things that you did. I want to obliterate any memory I have of the pain you caused. But I can’t. You have done too much damage.

Most recently and tragically before you died.

Why did you gain so much enjoyment from secrets? I suppose they gave you power, something that you needed to survive. You liked to know secrets, share them, hide them and keep them. You used them to your advantage. Your biggest secret to date has to be your rediscovered relationship with my sister. Your staggering, cocksure attitude led you into this deceptive journey. You reveled in it. It benefited you to be seen as the perfect father. My sister would eventually make you feel like that. I never made you feel like that and had no intention of doing so.

Both of you say the other got in touch first. Who knows who was telling the truth. Either way it doesn’t matter. You both got what you wanted.

You always talked about her when I lived at home. You regularly compared me to her. I know I rarely met your expectations but they were impossible to meet. If you knew the real person my sister was then you would see for yourself she would never have met them either. However, she like you, is very good at tricking others to believe what she wants them to. Perhaps that’s a skill she inherited from her father.

I wonder what you did to convince her you’d changed. She was wary at first after all. You must have been very cunning to change her perception of you so swiftly. You clearly did a grand job and were a great actor. I applaud your performance.

I especially congratulate you on your ability to continue to burn bridges within this family. You were certain and adamant that no course would be taken on your part to help to reconcile the gap between your two daughters. You reiterated this on your death bed to me as you lay in the hospital. It was my duty as the younger sister to reach out the olive branch and build our broken relationship. You defended your other daughter and her childish actions until the end. Your pathetic need for her adoration amounted to destroying any last shred of kindness I had for you. Love had disappeared a long time ago.

I guess it was your way of sticking your middle finger up at me. A nice little reminder that you were in charge eh? You were the puppet master, holding up and strings as we danced around you, bending to your every need. Yet, the day I found out about your terminal illness, I immediately cut those strings you controlled me with for so long. I deliberately only visited you three times that month. I even wish it was less than that. Each time was dreadful. Not seeing you like that – deteriorating away but just being there, watching you, hearing you moan and complain that I wasn’t visiting enough when my sister and her family were going out of their way to care for you and make you feel better. I did not want you to feel better. I wanted it to be over. Hell, they even left their holiday early to be by your bedside, grapes and newspaper too! You were a very lucky man.

David mentioned something the other day.

Thinking back, he was the last person to speak to you before you slipped out of consciousness. He remembered what you said,

“I’d rather have had my brains blown out by a burglar than be dying slowly of Cancer!”

“Well I’m sure that would have been much nicer for your daughters (!)” David replied.

You really were a selfish, insensitive man. There are many people who suffer for years with Cancer. You were sick for less than a month! You drifted out of consciousness and slowly slipped away. There was no pain. Do you know how lucky you were?! We all hope for a painless death as we leave this world and there you were making a mockery of the thousands of people who suffer horrific deaths beyond their control.

There never was any good in you was there?

Some people are born bad.

You were one of them.

To help you breathe better……

After last week, I decided to do some investigating of my own to find any natural remedies to aid my Asthma. I already know about the benefits of fresh lemon juice and its links to Asthma. I often drink lemon and ginger tea when unwell and have recently been having fresh lemon squeezed into a glass of water if any wheezing begins. It is not a cure by all means but it certainly helps. Other remedies include a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a tissue to be gently sniffed or drinking a strong black coffee (apparently it helps to open the airways).

I wanted to search for some breathing techniques too. For too long have I solely relied on my inhalers to relieve my Asthma symptoms. However, for my own resilience, I feel it is essential that I develop some more natural strategies to soothe and appease the pain.

A colleague of mine suggested Yoga. She is not the first person to mention it. My friend Katrina is constantly telling me to give it a go. She too suffers from Asthma and her regular love and practise of Yoga has practically sent it packing. I am not adverse to it, I just can’t seem to find enough willpower (or forced interest) in going to a Yoga class. It doesn’t seem “me”. Yes, health comes first before embarrassment but I doubt I’d feel very comfortable. I do not enjoy exercising around other people; an unfortunate side of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I decided to take a look on YouTube and eventually fell onto a clip to do with the art of  “Pranayama” breathing. A Sanskrit word meaning “extension of breath”. Studies have shown it can be a great way to relieve asthmatic symptoms and reduce stress. I have only practised two forms of Pranayama – Shitali otherwise known as ‘Cooling breath’ where the breathing is done through the mouth with the tongue extended and Bhramari – Also known as ‘Bee Breath’ – where you make a humming sound while breathing. Both are equally effective. I tend to do the exercises at home before sleep and first thing in the morning (granted I have time before work!). I hope that over the following few weeks I can endeavour to attempt the other Pranayama exercises and hope that they also provide the same comfort as the others.

During my time at Drama School, we spent a lot of time before our dance and voice classes warming up. Much of this focussed on the way we breathed. We explored several techniques, drawing inspiration from Pilates, the Alexander Technique and general vocal warm ups. One exercise that I remembered was a technique that involved a partner. As you inhaled, you were to imagine your diaphragm and ribs expanding. You are to focus on only this part of your body moving. You must try to control your chest and prevent it from rising. If it does, you are not doing the exercise correctly. As you inhale, your partner needs to put their hands onto your sides, holding your ribcage. As they feel you breathe in, they must push against your ribs. You need to try to push against their resistance. At first it will be tough. Your ribs may not be used to moving like this but over time, you will start to see them expand more easily. As you exhale, your partner’s hands will maintain the pressure whilst continuing to support your ribs.

Try it. It might work for you. If anything, it’s a good exercise for your waist too!

Other tips include:

  • Counting and breathing – counting is a tried and tested way of calming people down in moments of anger – especially children. It works for a reason. It keeps you focussed on your breathing and distracts you from the feeling of panic or stress.
  • Keeping your head slightly tilted forward- it is tempting, in discomfort, to want to lean back or tip your head backwards. If you do this, you restrict your airways and the flow of oxygen to your lungs decreases. The same applies for the recovery position. You must tilt the head down to prevent choking on the patient’s tongue or vomit.
  • Relaxing – close your eyes, put on some peaceful music.
  • Buteyko Method (Nasal breathing) – making a conscious effort to breath solely from your nose is proven to be a better way of getting oxygen into your lungs. Breathing nasally will filter the air more efficiently through your sinuses unlike breathing through your mouth. It also helps to humidify the air that you inhale.
  • Good posture – keeping upright and not slouching are simple solutions. A good way of spotting an Asthma attack is if the sufferer is leaning forward. This is a natural reaction to the chest closing up and can bring some relief but keeping the chest area open will aid the patient more. Get someone to rub your back gently if needed.
  • Steam – one of my favourite remedies as it involves a hot bath. You don’t even have to get in it. If you feel tight chested, run a hot bath, shut the door and sit down in the bathroom. Lean against a wall so that you do not slouch. Take deep breaths in. You could count to keep a slow pace and inhale the rising steam. I assure you that this is an incredibly soothing remedy.
  • Keeping a control of your emotions- this can be a tough one and slightly ambiguous. This doesn’t mean become a wall of stone, just be aware of how you may be feeling. Extreme stress and upset can fuel Asthma attacks so I am going to state the obvious now – sorry – but do not PANIC! It will only make it worse. Anger won’t help either. Even side-splitting laughter can trigger an Asthma attack. I cannot be tickled as I end up wheezing like crazy. It is strangely difficult to explain that to people.

I hope these tips are useful to any fellow Asthma sufferers out there.

Keep well and look after yourselves.

xxx

*Asthma UK – The United Kingdom’s leading Asthma Charity. Image from Google.

Health Scare Part 2.

In the summer of 2008, I was booked in for a Colposcopy at the Royal Free Hospital in North London. It was a great hospital with a good reputation and I was pleased to be in their care. I wasn’t pleased however when my father insisted that I regale him with all the information and details about the procedure. I continued to tell him that it was to be extremely personal and intrusive and as a twenty six year old woman at the time, I wanted to endure it myself. I had not told any friends and was still yet to even tell my mother. Until it got to a point where I had to, it was something I wanted to keep private. Just because he had rooted through my things and discovered the truths, did not give him the right to have full clearance to know every detail of my life.

I had been working so hard to put some boundaries in place between us that this would only cancel them out. He was well aware of this and had no intention of risking loss of power over me. No matter how I reasoned with him, I never won. He had control over me.

As I sheepishly explained the steps of the Colposcopy, I felt sickened with each word. Why couldn’t he just investigate it over the web? No, he revelled in my discomfort.

By the time I had finished, my father looked at me with disgust then left. It was a look I was used to.

I tried to convince him that I would go to the appointment alone. Although I had hid the details of the appointment, unsurprisingly he had found them after one of his random “spring cleans” (or so he said). No, he had to be there and stick around as we sat awkwardly together in the waiting room. When the doctor called my name, I made my way to her as quickly as I could. I’m sure being stressed before was not the best emotion to be going through. I needed to be as relaxed as possible. How was that ever going to happen with the abuser awaiting me outside?

Of course the whole process was unpleasant and uncomfortable. I was very aware of where things were and what was happening to me. As a person who is incredibly insecure of their body, I have to admit it was one of the worst experiences of my life. This feeling was magnified by the fact the abuser would be the first face I would see after it was over.

My father had no sympathy for pain and as we left and walked to his car, he proceeded to list a set of targets I needed to achieve and complete for him over the following days, mainly to do with the house.

I had stopped listening the moment his lips opened and sound left his mouth.

This would be a moment that would be repeated for the next two years as an abnormal result kept appearing. I desperately wanted it to end. My fear of hospitals was fiercely developing and the abuser was winning. I finally opened up and told my boyfriend (my now husband David) about it all as well as my mother. David was supportive and understood that it was not my father’s place to accompany me, it was not doing the situation any good.

He offered to come instead.

I actually wanted to go alone but my father would never have allowed that. Instead, he accepted David’s request and had to back down unwillingly (he felt threatened by another man). He would not have a leg to stand on if he fought David for his position.

My last Colposcopy was 2011. It came back clear.

I had my catch up smear last month.

My results were normal.

Health Scare Part 1.

In 2008, after a routine smear test, I was informed that my test showed abnormal cells in my cervix. I had been having smear tests for a couple of years before and the results were always good so I was surprised to see this change.

My initial reaction was “keep it a secret”. I couldn’t tell my mother in fear of her reaction. Her fear of anything related to my health frightened me into not immediately speaking of it. I couldn’t bear her gasps of worry from what was an easily dealt with complaint. The doctors had made it clear that I would have to go through a procedure called a Colposcopy. Here the surface of the cervix is closely examined with an instrument called a colposcope. This device carefully looks to see if their are any abnormalities or cancerous cells. I was warned that a biopsy of the cervix may also be undertaken to determine whether the cells were indeed cancerous. The doctors reassured me that it would not be painful, just uncomfortable but it felt pretty uncomfortable – borderline painful to me.

It didn’t even cross my mind to tell my father. It was plain to me that this would be another thing he would use against me. The myth that cervical cancer developed after being promiscuous was something my father believed. That the HPV virus (linked to Herpes and cold sores) must mean that I was a slut. He had implied how “promiscuous” I was before after a doctor friend (albeit drunken doctor friend who hated my mother and often flirted outrageously with my father) stumbled into my bedroom one day at a party at my father’s house. When I caught her in there, she muttered something in Bengali and left. I went over to my desk where she had been standing and noticed how things were slightly out of place. She had been spying on me and had clearly noticed my carefully placed medicine at the back of my desk. Behind a couple of asthma inhalers lay an open packet of contraceptive pills. I was twenty one years old. Surely, other than proving that I was sexually active, it also clarified that I was being safe.

My father didn’t see it like that and berated me for ruining his reputation. I was not to have any indiscretions or appear reckless with life. Sex was sure fire reckless and crude behaviour to him. Though he happily flirted and flaunted affection at his married, drunkard doctor friend.

Cervical abnormalities can affect most women in their lives but it doesn’t mean that they will certainly develop cancer.

My father did eventually find out whilst partaking in his usual habit of delving through my post. Medical letters were a thrill for him to find as it gave him tremendous power over my basic human right – my health. Of course, after discovering my ongoing problem, my father was quick to verbally scold me, humiliate me and lash out at me. An argument ensued and I was left defending a cause that my father should have been supporting me through.

Once he knew the truth, what was essentially manageable to me became a nightmare for the following three examinations over the next two years.

My father now had control over my mind and my body.

2nd August 2012 – The epiphany.

Today would have been my father’s 76th birthday.

A year ago, on his 75th, I was not at the hospital celebrating it with him. I was at home attempting to block out that this was a significant day. To me, it had to remain as ‘normal’ as possible. I did not want to, in the future, associate this day with him.

There was too much pressure and I was really struggling. I needed to keep the boundaries in place, they were keeping me strong. I could not destroy them because my father was dying. I could not ruin all my hard work for emotion.

David, my husband, had visited my father the day before to drop off a birthday card. I wasn’t cold-hearted as he made out. I wanted to give him something. In the card I wrote some special, thoughtful words. I wanted to say something kind to him, I wanted to go against the image he always portrayed me as. I was not a monster, as much as he accused me of being one. I was not heartless, I still remained his daughter. Maybe I was forgiving him in the card. Or perhaps I was forgiving myself. Ultimately, it was the right thing to do.

On the 2nd of August 2012, I received a phone call from my father.

He rang me to say thank you. It would be the first time in over sixteen years that those two words seemed genuine.

Then came the moment in the phone call where I finally thought I would hear what I have always longed for:

An apology

Just one, just one admission for all the abuse, all the terror. He began to cry, he commented on my sweet words and how they have soothed him. I cried too. I was willing the words out of him, just say sorry!

“I often thought, after arguments, Babitago, I regretted shouting at you,”

I was shocked to hear him saying it. It was finally coming, the moment I had waited my life for.

“It was wrong of me, but Babitago; you needed to be corrected.”

However, it was those five words that rang in my ear. I immediately wiped away my tears.

He continued speaking, saying how I would provoke his anger which caused him to react badly towards me and I could not blame him for that. That I was willing him to fight me, attack me and how much I wanted him to berate me. He said I put myself into situations deliberately and taunted him wanting a reaction and needing an argument. After a while into his detailing of me, I had stopped listening. We seemed to be taking a few steps forward for a second but ultimately he was always going to pull me back down.

What did I expect?

I expected that.

Our desires always disappoint us; for though we meet with something that gives us satisfaction, yet it never thoroughly answers our expectation.
Elbert Hubbard

Wednesday 18th July 2012 – The phone call.

My father called me that afternoon as I made my way to meet a friend for dinner. It was two days since we had last spoken and I was wary when answering the phone. We were not back to having regular contact and I was worried that getting in touch on the 16th was the wrong decision.

As I was on the bus, he told me he had been rushed to hospital the previous night. My heart sank. My memories of him being in hospital had never been good. I began to worry of what he may expect from me.

He said it was serious and again my heart dropped. Now I had to deal with the fact that it wasn’t a prostate problem or a torn ligament, my father may actually be seriously ill. It was a lot to take in so quickly. The doctors at the hospital, after numerous tests, had come to the conclusion that his suffering was either Tuberculosis or Lung Cancer. Both sounded horrific and both petrified me. More tests were needed to determine what it actually was. As I took in the magnitude of the situation, I asked him how he got to the hospital. He explained how he had called an ambulance in the night when realising he could not breathe.

I could not believe it. Three years back when I had my Asthma attack, he refused to call me an ambulance! My life was clearly not as important as his.

He began listing orders:

  • I was to come the next day and bring him a set of clothes including underwear
  • He needed all his bank cards
  • I had to bring his mobile phone
  • David or I needed to check the house to make sure it was okay.

Many other things were said but I had stopped listening. I did not want this role he was forcing on me. I had not talked to him for two weeks because he had told me never to speak to him again. He condemned me as a daughter and now he expected me to take care of him and the house, that it all gets forgotten just because he is ill. Is that selfish? Is that evil? Yes, it probably is but I was working so hard to break free, to cut all the emotional ties and feel secure and strong. This was the worst thing that could’ve happened.

I told him it would be impossible to come the next day. He said he would’ve asked my sister but she wouldn’t return from Norfolk until Friday. I had to do it. Of course, I wasn’t surprised she knew his state before me. I barely knew anything about my father any more. I reminded him that I had a job to do and that it was a very important week at work. He muttered angrily down the phone, scolding me for being so insensitive. I told him I would come on Friday too as I was working a half day. It was just about enough to pacify him.